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Friday, February 15, 2013

1993-94 Pittsburgh Penguins Tom Barrasso Jersey

Arriving on the scene in unprecedented fashion, Tom Barrasso became the only goaltender in history to make the jump directly from high school to the NHL without playing a single game of major junior, college or minor pro hockey first.

He made his debut at the age of 18, having just come off a 22-0-1 season for the Acton-Boxborough Colonials in his native Massachusetts, when he suited up for the Buffalo Sabres, who had drafted him 5th overall in 1983. He made the transition to the NHL in fine style, playing in 42 games and posting a 26-12-3 record with a 2.84 goals against average, which earned him not only the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year, but also the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender that season as well, a truly remarkable achievement for someone not only so young, but so inexperienced. It was only the third time a player had won both the Calder and Vezina in the same season after Frank Brimsek and Tony Esposito.

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He would follow up his stunning debut season by first participating in the 1984 Canada Cup for the United States before sharing the Jennings Trophy with teammate Bob Sauve for the fewest goals allowed by a team as well as making his first NHL All-Star Game in 1985. His workload increased to 54 games  that season while his goals against average dropped to 2.66 thanks in part to 5 shutouts.

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Barrasso in his USA jersey during the 1984 Canada Cup

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Sauve and Barrasso display their Jennings Trophy

Barrasso would play three additional seasons in Buffalo, including playing in the 1987 Canada Cup, before beginning the 1988-89 season by playing 10 games for the Sabres before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team on the rise with the arrival of Mario Lemieux in 1984. Barrasso would nearly equal his previous playoff experience of 12 games with Buffalo, over the course of five seasons, with 11 games in 1989.

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After being limited to 24 games in 1989-90, Jaromir Jagr would arrive the following season and the Penguins where on their way, winning the Stanley Cup in 1991 as Barrasso led them to the playoffs with a 27-16-3 regular season record followed by a 12-7 playoff mark.

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Barrasso defending against the Minnesota North Stars during the 1991 finals

The Penguins would repeat as champions again the following season, with Barrasso winning all 16 of Pittsburgh's playoff games, which included an NHL record of 14 consecutive playoff wins, en route to a second consecutive Stanley Cup.

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His workload reach a peak in 1992-93 with 67 games played while setting a league and career best record of 43 wins while losing just 14 and tying 5. His goals against average of 3.01 was his finest since his 2.66 back in 1985 with the Sabres.

The 1993-94 season would see Barrasso win his 253rd game on this date in 1994 with a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets to become the winningest goaltender born in the United States, passing Brimsek's record which stood for 44 years.

Barrasso would miss essentially the entire 1994-95 season due to injury, playing in just two games, but rebounded with 49 games and 29 wins in 1995-96 only to suffer the same fate in 1996-97 when he was restricted to only 5 appearances. He rebounded even more strongly this time around, setting a career best goals against average of 2.07. He also reached the second highest totals of his career with 63 games played and 31 wins, which made him the first American goaltender to ever reach 300 wins.

During the 1999-00 season, after 12 seasons with the Penguins, Barrasso was dealt to the Ottawa Senators, with whom he would only play a total of seven games.

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He did not play in 2000-01 to be with his daughter while she was battling cancer, but returned for the 2001-02 season with the Carolina Hurricanes. Refreshed, he played in 34 games that season while splitting time with incumbent Arturs Irbe before a late season move to the Toronto Maple Leafs for just 4 games. Also during that season, Barrasso would return to international hockey for the first time since 1987 when he was on the roster of the 2002 US Olympic Team, with whom he won a silver medal in Salt Lake City.

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His career concluded with six games with the St. Louis Blues in 2002-03 before he retired as a Penguin after signing a symbolic one day contract.

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His career totals were 777 games played, 369 wins, two Stanley Cups, a Calder, Vezina and Jennings trophy, an Olympic silver medal and NHL records for most points and assists by a goaltender with 48 and the record for Most Consecutive Playoff Wins and Most Playoff Wins in a Season. 2009 would see Barrasso inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Toady's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Pittsburgh Penguins Tom Barrasso jersey as worn on this date when he set a new record for most wins by an American goaltender when he passed Frank Brimsek's record, which had stood since his retirement in 1950.

The Penguins debuted their new, modern jerseys in 1992-93 after having worn their original skating penguins logo since their second season of 1968-69. This jersey broke new ground with it's pointed shoulder yoke and remained in use through the 2001-02 season.

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Pittsburgh Penguins 93-94 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins93-94Bjersey.png

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1993-94 Pittsburgh Penguins Tom Barrasso jersey . This is the road half of the Penguins 1993-94 set. One of our favorite jerseys ever, this jersey was a fantastic mix of new and old, with the classic diagonal "Pittsburgh" cresting taken from the Penguins original sweaters from their 1967-68 debut season paired with their sleek, new modern penguin logo on the shoulders. These jerseys served the Penguins well through the 1996-97 season until being replaced by their odd, depressing and asymmetrical alternate jersey in 1997-98.

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Pittsburgh Penguins 93-94 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins93-94RBjersey.png

Today's video segment begins with an interview with Barrasso on the occasion of his induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, where he discusses his entry into the NHL at such a young age as well as the rest of his career.

Never one to back down, Barrasso engages in a fight while with the Sabres.

Finally, a brief clip of Barrasso robbing John LeClair with a magnificent glove save.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

1988-89 Montreal Canadiens Petr Svoboda Jersey

After beginning his career with CHZ Litvinov in Czechoslovakia, Petr Svoboda, born on this date in 1966, got his feet wet on the international scene by appearing in the European Junior Under 18 Championships in 1983. In 1984, he was a member of the Czechoslovakian team at the Under 20 World Junior Championships and then made a second appearance at the European U18 Championships  held in West Germany, where after playing in five games, Svoboda left the Czech team and defected to the West.

He was then drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, who chose him 5th overall in the first round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, shocking the entire NHL, who had idea Svoboda had not only defected already, but was already there in Montreal hiding in a hotel in the days leading up to the draft so he would be available to pull on a Canadiens sweater in person!

He made his NHL debut later that year with a pair of assists in his very first game. Svoboda played in 73 games that season, missing time due to having his hand stepped on my an official who was trying to break of a fight Svoboda was involved in. Despite missing some time, he still put up 31 points from 4 goals and 27 assists.

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He would play seven more seasons with Montreal, which included setting career highs in goals (8), assists (37) and points (45) during the 1988-89 season. During the postseason, he would also set career marks with 11 assists and 12 points as the Canadiens made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Svoboda during the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals

During his first five seasons in Montreal, Svoboda would never finish with a lower plus/minus rating than +14, was in the +20's three times and had a career best of +46 in 1987-88.

Svoboda was then traded to the Buffalo Sabres late in the 1991-92 season. He played a full season with the Sabres in 1993-94, but the lockout during the 1994-95 season saw Svoboda return to what was now the Czech Republic, following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia with the dawn of 1993. He rejoined Litvinov, then renamed HC Chemopetrol Litvinov for 8 games before returning to the Sabres for 26 games before another move, this time to the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Svoboda during the 1991-92 season with Buffalo

Svoboda fit into the strong Flyers teams well, posting consecutive seasons of +26, +10 and +19. It was also during this time period that the Flyers made a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997, Svoboda's second.

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During his third full season for the Flyers, Svoboda was finally able to return to international hockey for the first time since his defection 14 years earlier when he joined the Czech Republic for the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan for the first Games during which the NHL suspended it's season to allow it's best players to compete.

In the First Round, the Czechs won two, over Finland and Kazakhstan, but suffered a narrow 2-1 loss to Russia.  The Final Round saw them paired with the United States in the quarterfinals, where they won convincingly 4-1. They next famously defeated Canada in the Semifinals 2-1 following a shootout behind the goaltending of an on form Dominik Hasek.

Now playing for the gold medal against Russia, the game continued scoreless through two full periods and into a third before a pass back to Svoboda at the point saw him wind up and fire a shot which found the back of the net to give the Czechs a lead with 11 minutes left to play.

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Action from the gold medal game at the 1998 Olympics

The goal would be all that Hasek would require, as the game finished 1-0 in favor of the Czech Republic, with Svoboda scoring the only goal of the contest to send the nation into wild celebrations back home in Prague.

1998-99 saw Svoboda begin the season with Philadelphia, but after 25 games he was on the move once again after a trade sent him south to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would play 34 games to finish the season. He would play 70 games of the 1999-00 season, his highest total since 1996. Those 70 games included Svoboda becoming the first Czech player to play in over 1,000 NHL games.

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 His final season of 2000-01 saw Svoboda limited to just 19 games mainly due to a concussion which caused his retirement from hockey at the age of 36.

Due to the circumstances of his defection as a teen, which meant he was not going to be able to compete internationally for the duration of the existence of Czechoslovakia and untimely injuries and the regular playoff appearances of both the Sabres and Flyers, meant Svoboda was never able to play for the Czech Republic internationally outside of his memorable Olympics which saw him score likely the the most important goal in the country's history, and also perhaps it's most unlikely, as Svoboda totaled just 58 goals in 1,028 career games, never scoring more than 8 in any one season and scoring 2 or less eight times in his 17 year career.

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Montreal Canadiens Petr Svoboda jersey as worn during the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals, as evidenced by the Stanley Cup Finals patch on the left shoulder, the first time the two teams competing in the finals would wear a commemorative patch and the only time both teams would wear the patch on their shoulder, as the following season the patch would move to the right chest.

The only other time the patch would be worn on the shoulder was the 1993-94 New York Rangers, whose diagonal "Rangers" cresting interfered with the right chest location. Of note, the Canadiens patch in 1989 was in English, while they wore a French version of the patch on their return to the finals in 1993.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996 Czech Republic National Team Petr Svoboda jersey. Attentive readers will notice that Svoboda only skated for the Czech Republic once, that coming two years later in 1998. This particular jersey was made in anticipation of Svoboda playing in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, a tournament he ended up not taking part in.

This jersey is a good reminder to collectors to do their homework in advance of any purchases of game worn jerseys, as there are circumstances where jerseys are made for players, full professional models with all the correct tagging and patches, but never actually worn, something that can be confirmed with a simple check of statistics on the internet. While still a very attractive and desirable jersey, it's value as a team issued jersey will be less than that of a genuine game worn jersey, and one should avoid overpaying for a jersey in such circumstances. This one was sold by Classic Auctions as a game issued jersey with full disclosure of it's origins, but could resurface again without such a forthcoming description and it's up to the buyer to protect themselves by doing their proper homework before completing any transaction.

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photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with Svoboda finding a permanent place in Czech hockey history with his gold medal winning goal at the 1998 Olympics.

Next, a longer look at the Czech team in 1998.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1987 NHL All-Star Wayne Gretzky Jersey

In 1987, the NHL deviated from it's usual All-Star Game format in the form of Rendez-vous '87, a series of two games during which a team of NHL All-Stars faced off against the Soviet National Team in Quebec City, Quebec at Le Colisee, home of the Quebec Nordiques.

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Rendez-vous '87 program cover

The event was just a part of the annual Quebec Winter Carnival, a multi-cultural event featuring entertainers and food from Canada, Russia and the United States.

The Soviet lineup was a strong one, and featured over a dozen players who would eventually compete in the NHL within the next six years. The changing face of the NHL was reflected by the increasing international presence on its roster, now sporting players from not only Canada and Sweden, as in the 1979 Challenge Cup, but with the addition of players from the United States and Finland as well.

Game 1 took place on February 11, 1987 and Jari Kurri got the NHL All-Stars off to a 1-0 lead 5:23 in to the game. The Soviets fell behind 2-0 when Glenn Anderson scored with three minutes remaining in the second period but managed to get on the board before the period ended when Alexei Kasatonov got one by Grant Fuhr with 1:18 remaining.

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The third period was an exciting affair, as the Soviets tied the game 2:03 into the period. Canada retook the lead five minutes later with Kevin Dineen's goal only to have the Soviets tie the game once more one minute later thanks to Anatoli Semenov.

The game continued scoreless as time began to wind down before Dave Poulin got the game winning goal for the All-Stars with just a minute and fifteen seconds left when he beat goaltender Evgeny Belosheikin, who had the audacity to wear Tretiak's legendary #20!

After a day of rest, the teams returned to the ice on February 13, 1987 following much the same script, as the NHL again scored 3:32 into the game to lead 1-0 after the first period.

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The Soviet Union got two goals early in period two when Valeri Kamensky and Vladimir Krutov scored a minute and a half apart for their first lead of the competition. Doug Wilson evened the scoring at 2-2 with his goal on the power play at 7:33 only to have Kamensky and Krutov each score their second goals of the game to put the Soviets ahead by two. Kamensky's second goal came with 19 seconds left in the second period, while Krutov's game winner came 9:19 into the third period.

Krutov Rendez-vous '87 Pictures, Images and Photos
Krutov's two goals were key to the Soviet in in Game 2

Andrei Khomutov increased the Soviet lead to 5-2 at 12:59, which proved to be an important goal in not only the game, but in the larger picture of the series as a whole, for when Ray Bourque scored at 19:23 of the third period, it was too little too late as the Soviets not only won the game 5-3, but earned bragging rights for the series by outscoring the NHL All-Stars by a combined 8-7 over the two games thanks to Khomutov's goal.

Following the game, team captains Wayne Gretzky and Viacheslav Fetisov traded jerseys in keeping with the tradition of European soccer players, leading to the most unusual sight of Gretzky wearing a Soviet National Team jersey emblazoned with CCCP across the front as well as a Cyrillic captain's "K".

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"Comrade" Gretzky in his Soviet National Team jersey

Despite the loss in the series, the two games together allowed the Canadian members of the NHL All-Star Team a chance to compete together in advance of that fall's thrilling 1987 Canada Cup.

Today's featured jersey is a 1987 NHL All-Star Team Wayne Gretzky jersey as worn in the two game Rendez-vouz '87.

This jersey's unusual customization had sleeve numbers only on the left arm, as the Rendez-Vouz '87 patch was placed on the right sleeve in the location usually occupied by the numbers because of the stars occupying the usual location on the upper right chest for such a patch.

This style of jersey was worn only for the two games of the series in Quebec City and there was no dark "road" version ever produced for the team to wear, as was the norm with NHL All-Star jerseys since the introduction of the East vs. West format in 1969. That said, we have seen an orange version of this jersey, which we assume was a prototype.

Examples of this style jersey for collectors are rather scarce, as retail jersey sales were still in their infancy in 1987.

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1987 NHL All-Star Rendez-vous '87 jersey photo 1987NHLAll-StarRendez-vous87B.jpg

Bonus Jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 1987 Soviet National Team Sergei Priakin jersey as worn during Rendez-vous '87. These jerseys were some of the less visually successful of the Soviet Union's, as the dark red stripes against the red body of the jersey was too similar to create any worthwhile contrast.

Gone were the striking diamond pattern on the waist of the 1979 Challenge Cup jerseys, as well as the more pleasing font for the numbers. Things would improve in the years following, as the jerseys worn in international hockey would soon be made by the Finnish brand Tackla, giving the final jerseys of the Soviet era some much needed graphic design.

Sergei Priakin would become the answer to a trivia question in 1988 when he became the first Soviet player to be allowed to compete in the NHL, which he did with the Calgary Flames. He would also suffer the common plight of the Soviet players during this early era of playing in North America, as the spelling of their names on the backs of their jerseys often varied from appearance to appearance. As seen here, "PRYAKHIN" would latter play for the Flames wearing "PRIAKIN".

1987 Soviet Union Rendez-vous '87 F

Extra bonus Jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1987 NHL All-Star Team Wayne Gretzky jersey. This orange jersey was never worn by the NHL All-Stars during the two game Rendez-vous '87 event and we assume this was a prototype made in case the series format called for the need for the All-Stars to wear an away jersey or perhaps in anticipation of this style being worn again for the 1988 NHL All-Star Game, which did not happen, as the league reverted back to the template worn in 1987.

Whatever the reason for its existence, it is a sharp looking style but one that raises more questions than it answers.

Note a few inaccuracies in the customization of this particular jersey, such as the event patch placed on the right chest and the sleeve numbers on the right arm, as well as what appears to be a twill nameplate rather than one made out of the same material as the body of the jersey.

 NHL All-Star 1987 Orange F jersey
NHL All-Star 1987 Orange B jersey
Today's video highlights begin with Poulin tipping in the game winning goal in Game 1 of Rendez-vous '87.

In Game 2 of Rendez-vous '87, Kamensky is a one man highlight reel, scoring two and assisting on Khomutov's goal for good measure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1940-41 Boston Bruins Bill Cowley Jersey

Bill Cowley won the scoring title in the Maritime Senior Hockey League in 1934 with 50 points in 28 games while playing for the Halifax Wolverines, giving notice as to what was to follow in the years to come.

Cowley then began his NHL career with the St. Louis Eagles during their one and only season after relocating from Ottawa. Following the demise of the Eagles, Cowley was claimed in a dispersal draft of the former St. Louis players by the Boston Bruins. Originally used as a left wing, Cowley was moved to center to take full advantage of his excellent play making abilities.

Beginning in the 1935-36 season, Cowley's point totals began a steady climb during the first four seasons of his career, first from 21 points to a team leading 35 followed by 39 points in a then 48 game season. Although limited to 34 games by injury, Cowley exceeded a point-per-game average in 1938-39 with 8 goals and 34 assists for 42 points in just 34 games to finish third overall in league scoring. He continued this pace in the playoffs with 14 points in 12 games as the Bruins won the 1939 Stanley Cup in five games over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bill Cowley 1939 OPC card
1939 OPC Bill Cowley hockey card

He again reached the 40 point mark the following year, but his streak of being the Bruins leading scorer ended at three. In 1940-41, Cowley then led not only the Bruins in scoring, but the entire NHL while setting a new league record of 62 points. Cowley's 45 assists alone were enough to win the scoring race, as his final point total was 40% more than his nearest challengers 44 points. While Cowley would only compete in two post-season games that season, the Bruins would win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. At the conclusion of the season, Cowley was named the winner of the Hart Trophy.

After a short 28 game season in 1941-42, a healthy Cowley returned in 1942-43 to again lead the Bruins in scoring and set a new personal best in the process with 27 goals and 45 assists for 72 points, just one behind Chicago's Doug Bentley's new league record of 73 points. 8 more points followed in 9 playoff games as the Bruins again returned to the Stanley Cup Finals and Cowley was awarded his second Hart Trophy.

In 1943-44 Cowely had what would have been the most remarkable seasons in NHL history up to that point turn into a virtually forgotten footnote instantaneously. Cowley, who was on pace to shatter the league scoring record with 95 points, had reached 71 points and was averaging an amazing 1.97 points per game when an injury ended his season with 12 games remaining, which at the time was 25% of the schedule. Despite being limited to 36 games, Cowley's 30 goals that season would prove to be a career high.

Cowley Bruins
Bill Cowley #10, centering a line for the Bruins

He returned with 65 points to lead the Bruins in scoring for the sixth time in 1944-45. He only completed in 26 games in 1945-46, but was healthy in time for the playoffs as the Bruins made another appearance in the finals.

His final NHL season, his 12th with the Bruins, saw him score 38 points, which included scoring a goal and an assist on this date in 1947 to become the NHL's all-time leading scorer with 529 points to pass Syd Howe's previous record.

He would retire following the season, having now raised his record to 548 points, which he scored in 549 games. He was also the last active player from the St. Louis Eagles roster.

Cowley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1968, the only Hall of Famer to begin his career with the St. Louis Eagles.

Today's featured jersey is a 1940-41 Boston Bruins Bill Cowley jersey from the season Cowley set a new league record with 62 points while winning the scoring title. The Bruins introduced this gold alternate jersey, as opposed to a full time road jersey, in 1940-41 and went on to win the Stanley Cup with a four game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings that year.

This gold jersey was worn for four seasons until being retired after the 1943-44 season. Prior to the introduction of today's jersey, the Bruins wore a single jersey style for both home and road games all season long, dating back to their first season of 1924-25.

1940-41 Boston Bruins jersey,1940-41 Boston Bruins jersey


Monday, February 11, 2013

1979 Soviet Union National Team Viacheslav Fetisov Jersey

Prior to 1979, the Soviets had played against North American professionals three times, the first being the ground breaking 1972 Summit Series against a team of the best Canadians. The 1974 Summit Series revisited the concept, only this time against a team of the best players from the WHA rather than just Canadians. The first Canada Cup tournament took place in 1976, which had not only Team Canada and the Soviet National Team, but also teams from Sweden, Czechoslovakia, the United States and Finland.

The Challenge Cup was held in New York's Madison Square Garden and took the place of that season's traditional All-Star Game and consisted of a three game series held on February 8, 10 and 11, 1979.

Challenge Cup program
1979 Challenge Cup program cover

The NHL All-Star team was comprised of players without regards to the country they were born in, similar to the WHA All-Star team of the 1974 Summit Series. In all, the NHL All-Stars comprised 23 Canadians and three Swedes.

Guy Lafleur opened the scoring in Game 1 just 16 seconds into the game, but by now the North Americans had learned not to dismiss the Soviets, a lesson learned in Game 1 of the 1972 Summit Series. Each team scored a power play goal before the first period ended with the NHLers up by one.

The NHL extended it's lead in the second period with goals from Clark Gillies and Bob Gainey. Vladimir Golikov pulled one back for the Soviet Union 3:02 into the third, but the All-Stars circled the wagons and held off the Soviets the rest of the way to win 4-2 with Ken Dryden getting the win in goal for the NHL.

Challenge Cup pennant

Game 2 had the Soviet Union scoring first at 8:10 only to have the NHL score three consecutive goals , a power play from Mike Bossy and an even-strength goal from Bryan Trottier in the first followed by a Gilbert Perrault tally just 27 seconds into the second.

The Soviets fought back with a goal at 2:05 before Larry Robinson restored the All-Stars lead to two again at 5:06. That lead quickly disappeared when the Soviet Union scored at 17:02 on the power play and again 45 second later to even the game heading into the third.

Golikov got one past Dryden at 1:31 for the game winner, as the rest of the period was scoreless thanks to Vladislav Tretiak holding the All-Stars at bay to even the series at one game apiece.

Challenge Cup ticket

Game 3, played on this date in 1979, was simply all the Soviet Union as they put on a dazzling display of complete hockey. There was no score after the first period before the Soviets scored at 5:47 and again at 7:44 on a power play.

The third period was dominated by the Soviet Union as they solved goalie Gerry Cheevers again and again, scoring four times during a six minute span beginning at 8:44 to win the series 2 games to 1 with Vladimir Myshkin getting the shutout in his surprise debut for the Soviets.

1979 Challenge Cup team

While many people my not remember the Challenge Cup games, the cup itself is a spectacular trophy perhaps best remembered when the Soviet team returned to Madison Square Garden exactly one year later on February 9, 1980 and paraded the Challenge Cup around the ice prior to their 10-3 demolition of the United States Olympic Hockey Team in a tune-up match for the impending 1980 Olympics.

1979 Challenge Cup parade

This game occurred just 13 days before the Soviets shocking defeat in the "Miracle on Ice", when essentially the same Soviet team that easily dominated the best of the NHL 6-0 in Game 3 of the Challenge Cup lost to a team of American college players during the Olympics.

Similar to the Canada Cup trophy, the Soviets were allowed to win the trophy, but were not allowed to actually keep the trophy, which now resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Challenge Cup display

Today's featured jersey is a 1979 Soviet Union National Team Viacheislav Fetisov jersey. The Soviet Union jerseys were their usual utilitarian selves, simply adorned with CCCP in a simple font with legible numbers and some basic striping as an adornment, but with the addition of the repeating diamond pattern around the waist for a touch of flair not seen on the jerseys of the NHL All-Stars.

These Soviet jerseys would be the now familiar style as worn in the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.

Soiet Union 1976-81 jersey photo RussiaCCCP1976-81F.jpg
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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1979 NHL All-Star Ken Dryden jersey. The jerseys worn by the NHL All-Star Team for the 1979 Challenge Cup were without a doubt the simplest, most plain ones ever worn by an NHL All-Star Team, and actually managed to make the Soviet jerseys almost look flashy by comparison!

Without so much as a single star on them, the closest thing these jerseys can be compared to are the NHL referee's sweaters worn in the 1940's only with the addition of a pair of stripes and bolder numbers.

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NHL All Star 1979 jersey photo NHLAllStar1978-79B.jpg

Today's video highlights begin with all the goals scored in the 1979 Challenge Cup.

Game 1, won by the NHL All-Stars.

Game 2, the Soviets come from behind to win the game and turn the tide of the series.

The Soviet Union's dominant performance in Game 3.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

2014 Final Olympic Qualification Report

The final games of the 2014 Final Olympic Qualification have just been completed, and with some very unusual and surprising results!

First, in Group F, where Slovenia had already clinched their upset berth in Sochi, they backed up their earlier performance with a  dominant victory lap over Ukraine by a score of 6-1.

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Slovenia completed their memorable weekend in fine form

A reminder, as determined Friday, Group A will consist of Russia (ranked #1 in the IIHF World Rankings) , Slovakia (6), the United States (7) and Slovenia (18).

Group E in Riga saw France needing a regulation win over Latvia to send the group into tiebreakers, as a 60 minute win by France would have left Kazakhstan, 6-0 winners earlier today over Great Britain, Latvia and France all tied at 6 points each, with France needing to win by 2 goals to claim the invitation to Sochi.

France took a giant step toward that goal by taking a surprising 2-0 lead after one period, only to see goaltender Edgars Masalskis knuckle down as his teammates began to generate some much needed offense. Lauris Darzins got the home team on the board with a goal that took until 14:59 of the second period to arrive to cut the French lead to 2-1 after two periods.

Martins Karsums delighted the home supporters with the equalizer a mere 12 seconds into the third period to give Latvia the appearance of being on their way to Sochi. However, despite the shot of energy by the early goal, a third one was not in the cards for Latvia.

Unable to take the lead and breathe easy, it then became a matter of survival for Latvia as time wore down, as merely getting to overtime and earning a point in the standings was all Latvia required to win the group, but two French goals could steal it all away.

Things got interesting late when each team took a penalty at 17:10 for roughing and then France pulled goaltender Christobal Huet for a late man advantage at 18:06, only to have Kevin Hecquefeuille get called for cross-checking at 19:17.

In the end, Latvia was able to hold on through the end of regulation to claim the point needed to win the group and secure their place in Sochi, which should delight those responsible for ticket sales in Russia as well as their bar owners near the arena! The game was not over, however, and Pierre Edouard Bellemare won the game with a goal at 4:20 of overtime, but it came too late for France.

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Latvia had much reason to celebrate, winning the war despite losing the battle

Latvia (11) will now join the Czech Republic (3), Sweden (4) and Switzerland (9) in Group C in Sochi, which appears to be the most even of the groups.

Meanwhile, Group D came down to rivals Germany and Austria with a similar scenario, Germany needing a regulation win and Austria needing only to reach overtime.

Germany took until 18:41 to claim the lead, but Austria was the next to score, tying the game with a goal by Andre Lakos at 11:46 of the second period. Michael Wolf gave the home fans hope with a power play goal at 6:54 of the third period, only to have Markus Peintner respond at 12:22 with the key goal for Austria.

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Clearly the Olympic ban on commercialism does NOT apply to the qualification stages!

10th ranked Germany pressed for the game winner, out shooting Austria 11-5 for the period, but goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum denied the Germans at every turn to secure the 15th ranked Austrians an upset place in Sochi, ending a streak of Olympic participation for Germany that dates back to 1928!

Of little consolation was the fact that, like France, Germany would actually go on to win the game in overtime when Patrick Reimer scored a power play goal at 2:34 of overtime, leaving the Germans to regret not just their overtime loss to Italy, but their dismal performance at the 2012 World Championships, where their 2-5 record (which included losses to Latvia and Norway) left them with a 12th place finish that dropped them from 8th in the World Rankings to 10th, costing them an automatic berth in Sochi for those in the top 9.

Austria (15) will find Finland (2), Canada (5) and Norway (8) awaiting them in Group B as the full field for Sochi is now set, and fans from Slovenia, Austria and especially Latvia can now begin making travel plans for February of 2014.

With teams ranked 10th (Germany), 11th (Latvia) and 12th (Denmark) having home ice advantage as the host nation for their group, it certainly was a surprising weekend, as the teams to advance were Latvia in 11th, Austria in 15th and 18th ranked Slovenia.

Today's featured jersey is a 2002 Austria National Team Michael Lampert jersey from the last time Austria competed in the Olympics back in 2002 in Salt Lake City. There, Austria lost to Latvia 4-2 and Germany 3-2 before defeating an undermanned Slovakia 3-2, as the NHL had yet to take a break to allow a number of their best players to compete in the Preliminary Round. Their 1-2 record left Austria in their place and only the winner of the group advancing to the First Round. Austria then lost to Switzerland 4-1, which left them classified in 12th place of the 14 teams.

This style of Austrian jersey was first adopted in 1998 and served them for a long time, seven seasons through 2004, with the trim detail on the arm stripe and their unique "soccer jersey" numbers being their most memorable design elements.

Austria 2002 jersey photo Austria2002F.jpg
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